2011 was filled with my favorites (because — shhh — when I decide I like something it’s pretty hard for me not to give it favorite status). I have a hard time not sharing what I love and most times my enthusiasm is so buoyant it’s indiscriminate. Like when I tell the gas station attendant about my new food-dehydrator or send my new favorite book to the girl who, weeks before, told me about a stigmatism in her eye which prevents her from reading.
Such is my life.
But finally, I have a place to bleed excitement for the things I love and the stories behind them.
(Because there is always a story.)
Here are just a few of my very-favorite favorites from 2011:
We chatted over a conference lunch and I knew I liked her. She was feisty with depth, just my kind of girl. I picked her brain about a never-ending topic of interest, nutritional health, and she shared some of her secrets. Sprouting and dehydrating was on my list to explore, but, “we’re in the middle of an adoption, and when you are adopting there is little change left on the dresser” I said. A few weeks later, this prize arrived at my door with a full kit to begin sprouting, recipe books and all.
She spared no expense.
He spared no expense.
“I felt a nudge from Him,” was something like what she said in response to my gratitude. My children are still feasting from the bounty and their mama has tuned her ear to learn to listen like this new friend did.
He whispered, and she responded. It’s His way of gift-giving. And I am living the story. In the midst of “God, will you provide for this adoption?” was a unnecessary treat. Isn’t that just like Him?
And then there was another.
Just before Christmas, a package came my way — another whisper from Him, to a friend, to me.
Early this fall I began reading a summary of the writings of a 19th century educational reformer as she discussed the necessity and beauty which comes from forming habits, even in the lives of young children. Her writings resonated and as I began to train their little hearts and hands to form habits, I sought after my own reform. I picked up a journal to record my daily adorations and heart-prayer wanderings. The new habit stuck. It went with me, everywhere, absorbing watermarks from the kitchen faucet and cucumber-peel stains along the way.
Simultaneously, I began lighting a candle. In the midst of everyday chaos, I needed reminders of the fragrance coming forth from this life, foisted into motherhood overnight. That sweet candle traveled from room to room until I put one in every room.
Fast-forward to just days before Christmas and that package. How did she know? I thought, as I opened this other friend’s gift. Enclosed was a new journal, in perfect time for the New Year ready to be written on with new habits and new heart-cries, and a candle with a cypress scent. She didn’t know my behind-closed-doors habits, but He did.
The moleskin journal has found its new place tucked inside my Bible and toted around under my arm and the candle is a staple in our home these days.
Sometimes He speaks in gifts.
(And friends with birthdays in the wings, don’t be surprised if you find this same package at your doorstep. When it’s good, why re-invent?)
Favorite Writing Music
At least once a week I settle in to a corner booth in a coffee shop, plug in my headphones, and I exhale. I write. I need just enough noise to inspire but not distract. When I don’t have my pandora set to classical-strings, I have Isaac Meyer’s Acoustic Rhythms on repeat.
And when I feel like I want to continue the conversation that’s going on under my roof with my littles, I play the composer we’ve chosen for the season. If you’re like me and can’t embrace a work of art without knowing the story behind it, Patrick Kavanaugh’s Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers tells the story in brief, palatable excerpts. Just my style.
Favorite Parenting Charge
While I’m sure these declarations have been on Ann Voskamp’s site for years, I only just discovered them. They now have a home on my bathroom mirror, reminding me of my role in their story. I’ve stolen another’s words as my own personal Mommy-treatise.
This year we are celebrating the launch of a dear friend’s work that has been years in the making. And, friends, he may just inspire the next William Wilberforce. Freedom is found in these pages which expose injustice while unearthing beauty. A Walk Across the Sun gripped me. The story had to be told.
And a summary of Corban’s words from the book’s launch party in New York City highlights why there had to be a story: Most people I’ve met have a fairly thin understanding of trafficking. They’ve heard of it, but tend not to know all that much. They haven’t absorbed it. But a novel actually requires you to sit down and live with a story for six hours, eight hours, ten hours, however long it takes to finish the book and in so doing it embeds itself in you in a different way.
Just a few states away, another friend told another story. A Good and Perfect Gift is a memoir about Amy Julia Becker’s pregnancy and early years with her daughter who has Down’s Syndrome. It didn’t let me go, even after I finished it. She told the raw truth about her wrestlings over an experience with motherhood that wasn’t “just so,” and the beauty that emerges when you receive what He has for you in the unorthodox. Her story argued for LIFE in a way that was new to me.
If I could tell a story on film I would. But since I can’t, I will glean from those who can. The following women have captured pieces of our story on camera this year and I have a healthy jealousy for the way they paint beauty.
My world is full of favorites. I have more, of course. I’ll save those for another rainy day in an effort to curb my Tourets-like release of all-that-I-love at just the wrong time :).